Ithaca College

School of Humanities and Sciences

Religious Studies

Studies in religion provide excellent training in understanding and appreciating others, and thereby oneself, through an examination and evaluation of the forms of expression that religious beliefs and values have taken in diverse societies and cultures. Attention is given to religious ideals, to how they work out in fact, and to the dynamic tensions that result. Study in this field also teaches interdisciplinary analysis, because religion is a sufficiently complex phenomenon that an adequate assessment of it must involve phenomenological, logical, empirical, and humanist methodologies. In brief, the student of religion is trained to develop both appreciative and critical skills, in addition to a wide understanding of the way people are, in fact and in aspiration. Such skills and knowledge will be useful to those working in multicultural contexts, whether in business, government, or travel, or working in some related aspect of the social sciences or humanities, such as anthropology or literature.

Religious studies offers an appreciative, yet critical, analysis of major world religions. Each of the great religious traditions is a response to the spiritual issues that have inspired and challenged cultures worldwide - the question of the source of existence, the ultimate purpose of life, the meaning of suffering, evil, death, and the nature and paths of spiritual experience. Exploring myths, symbols, historical events, communal rituals, personal experiences, and classic texts, world religions continually reinterpret and apply spiritual wisdom to new cultural problems. Religious studies develops the intellectual tools for recognizing and thinking critically about these themes, whether in a Native American, ancient Near Eastern, biblical, Hindu, Buddhist, or contemporary American context. Areas of concentration can be in world religions and scriptures, comparing Eastern and Western traditions; religion and society, stressing religious issues and movements in the United States; religion and spirituality, looking at personal spiritual experiences, discipline, and growth; and religion and culture, examining religious expression in myth, ritual, and art.

Religious studies offers both an academic path for the spiritual seeker and an excellent basis for careers in the human service professions, such as counseling, social work, or teaching, and in business and professions involving work with people from diverse cultures.

Requirements for the Joint Major in Philosophy and Religion - B.A.

The joint major in philosophy and religion gives students a special opportunity to explore in depth the philosophical aspects of religion and the religious aspects of philosophy. Students in this major acquire a grounding in philosophy that enables them to conduct philosophical analyses of religious claims, and a grounding in religious studies that makes them sensitive to the religious dimensions of philosophical systems and activities. This is an excellent major for students who have a strong personal interest in the preceding topics, or who would like to prepare themselves for graduate study or professional responsibility in the field of religion.

A total of 36 credits in philosophy and religion, including

• At least 12 credits in philosophy (at least 6 credits of which must be at level 3 or 4), and

• At least 12 credits in religion (at least 6 credits of which must be at the level 3 or 4).

Specific courses that must be taken and are counted toward accumulation of the 36-credit requirement are


Philosophy of Religion


Reasoning or


Introduction to Logic



Total, B.A. in philosophy-religion


The following courses may be used to satisfy the course requirement in the philosophy-religion major for level-3 religion courses:


Literature of the Bible


The Renaissance and Reformation

Minor in Religious Studies

Students who minor in religious studies will be assigned an adviser from the department to help them select courses that reflect their interests. A student can construct a minor that concentrates on a survey of world religions; a study of mysticism and religious consciousness; an empirical examination of religious beliefs, practices, and change; or a philosophical examination of religious beliefs and practices.

Requirements for the minor - At least 18 credits in religion distributed over a minimum of six courses (at least two taken at level 3 or 4)

Total required for minor